Happy New Year, everyone! There’s something so inspiring about fresh starts. While 2021 didn’t bring us as much reprieve as we may have wished from Covid and its ripple effects, I’m entering 2022 cautiously optimistic that we’ll find a next normal this year that will give us at least some respite from the immense stress of the past two years. Whatever the year may bring, I’m thankful to be sharing it with you all – and we’ll work through what comes together, just like we always do.

With that said, I’m often asked at the end of a year/beginning of the next to offer my “predictions” for what’s to come. I have never been a fan of this practice. I understand why folks do it – the headlines draw a lot of clicks. But let’s be honest – none of us can predict the future, and I don’t enjoy the forcedness of trying. The other reality is that much of what will take place in 2022 is a continuation and maturation of some of the trends we’ve been “predicting” for a while – we’re at a level of sophistication with technology and innovation in service that the excitement isn’t in any one “next big thing,” but in the nuance of mastering the layers of change that come with ongoing evolution and transformation. 

So, spoiler alert – no predictions here! But what I would like to share are some thoughts on the headlines I’d like to write in 2022. To me, these are the top-of-mind conversations leading into the New Year that I think deserve our attention and will benefit us all to have:

#1: Employee Experience Takes Priority

We’ve spent the last five or so talking at length about the customer experience, and while that’s no less important than it has been – in 2022, employee experience will take center stage. It simply must. The Great Resignation will force companies to reflect on everything from their company culture to the strength and quality of their leadership to the employee value proposition to how much (or how little) opportunity exists for career development, and much more. 

Organizations will be forced to take responsibility to get more creative in how – and whom – they hire. Leaders will need to do and give more in the form of mentorship, encouragement, and recognition. We’re all realizing that the stellar customer experience we aim to deliver is impossible without engaged and satisfied employees, and in 2022 we must do what it takes to understand what our employees want and need to be happy and work tirelessly to deliver that. 

If you’d like to review some excellent podcasts from which we’ll continue this conversation in 2022, here are some recommendations:

#2: Mental Health Gets the Attention It Deserves in the Workplace

You cannot dispute the depths of stress and worry and trauma that have been experienced over the last two years. Of course, there are varying degrees – some have lost loved ones, some have had to juggle working with children at home, and some are forced to show up to work with colleagues who have very different fundamental beliefs than they do. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, really. Not to mention the fact that even pre-Covid, mental health deserved far more attention in the workplace than it was getting.

We’ve begun to take efforts to normalize the topic of mental health in the workplace, but we have a long way to go. There’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to how these discussions are handled – and encouraged, what resources are available and how they’re used, how leaders lead by example, and how we deal with the realities of providing a safe place for those struggling to come when they do. 

Again, if you’d like to check out some of the conversations we’ve had thus far on this topic, you can find those here:

#3: Companies Weave Digital into Their Identities

I just wrote an article at the end of 2021 about some of the confusion around Digital Transformation and in 2022 we need to gain more clarity around the digital continuum. Digital isn’t something we need “to do” but rather something that needs to become a part of our company’s identity. This means no more siloes, no more disjointed approaches and strategies, and moving beyond fragmented systems and tools.

Digital as a part of our identity means it is within the business’ DNA – it’s a part of every conversation, every function, every role. Digital leadership is strong and digital reputation is considered. Digital is being leveraged to streamline internal operations in a way that enables the best customer experience as well as efficiency, and it’s being used externally as a part of a company’s value proposition. As a company masters a foundational level of capability, they look for layers of sophistication and intelligence to layer on.

There’s a lot to discuss – and for many to do – to get to this point. We need better strategy, systems that streamline complexity, and insights that tell stories and allow for intelligent decision making. If you’d like to review some excellent conversations around digital, here are some top picks:

#4: The Service Value Proposition is No Longer Service

Here’s the punchline: customers don’t want service. They want uptime, outcomes, peace of mind. They want all of the complexity that goes into making “it” work to be invisible. They don’t want to buy “things” – they want knowledge and insights and perspective that helps them be and do better. 

Whether we refer to this evolution as Servitization, the move to delivering outcomes, As-a-Service, or the subscription economy, it means that we need to re-evaluate how we’re doing business and how we’re talking about service (hint: it shouldn’t be an “offering”). Companies need to be equipping themselves with the technological underpinnings that allow for guaranteed outcomes and need to be reconsidering their identity – moving away from manufacturer of X or servicer of Y to provider of (insert your differentiation here). I wrote an article about the idea of storytelling here, and I would love to explore this more in 2022. 

We had some great conversations about this topic in 2021 and featured some who are leading the charge. You can review those here:

#5: Sustainability Spurs Service Growth  

With the growing realization of how much more effort we need to be putting into saving our environment, and new standards and regulations being introduced around the globe, there’s a lot to discuss around sustainability. Even more specifically, there’s an immense amount of opportunity here for the introduction of new services – as well as a natural fit in how a focus on sustainability lends itself to the changes that Servitization introduce in terms of longer-lasting products and a more circular approach. 

I’m excited to see where this conversation goes in 2022. You can check out some of our previous discussions here:

What are you most interested to read or discuss in 2022? I’d love to hear! I’m always open to your feedback and input and look forward to continuing the conversations with you all this year. 

Sarah Nicastro
Author

Creator, Future of Field Service